William Morris Archive


Faulkner, Peter. "Morris and Old French." JWMS 15.1 (Winter 2002): 43-50. 

This article provides a clear introduction to the Romances.

Jacobs,  Joseph. Introduction to Old French Romances. Done into English by William Morris.  London: George Allen & Co., 1896; 1914, pp. v-xi.

Morris,  May. Introduction to Vol. XVII of The Collected Works of William Morris, edited by May Morris, Longmans, Green and Co., 1910-15, Vol. XVII, 1913, xli-ii.

Peterson, William. S. A Bibliography of the Kelmscott Press. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984; 1985, pp. 69-71.

Unsigned review, Nation, June 1896, 62, 88-89.

This is a review of Old French Romances. Done into English by William Morris. With an Introduction by Joseph Jacobs, London: George Allen & Co., 1896, which contains all four Romances published in the three Kelmscott Press books.


The Tale of Emperor Coustans

affiance: reliance, confidence
alboun: ready
aloof: away from
anighttide: at night
apparelled: prepare
array, arraying: prepare, preparing
astonied: astonished
bailiff: officer
behight: promised
benison: blessing
bezant: gold coin
burgrave: governor
Byzance: Byzantium
carl: man
certes: certainly
chequers: games boards
churl: peasant
clerk: scholar 
close: sealed
coffers: strongbox, drawers
Constans: costly
convent: monastery
cover-point: covering cloth
damage: a pity
debonairly: in a kind spirit, courteously, gracefully
durst: dared
erstwhile: once
esquire: squire
fast: definite
feigning: deceit
felon: evil
heried: honoured
journey: day’s march
leech: doctor
lighted down: alighted
lore: learning
Mahoume: Mohammed
marches: reaches, ares of land
marched upon: adjoined
master: advisor
matins: morning service
meet: appropriate
mickle: much
midden: dung-heap
nick: moment
obeisance: bow
paynim: pagan 
point: time
privy council: advisors
prudhomme: knight, freeholder, important man
runagate: renegade 
St. John’s-mass: birthday of St. John the Baptist; 24th June
Saracens: Muslims
sagely: wisely
scathe: harm, trouble
science: knowledge
sendel: thin silk
sithence: since
solar: living room
sooth: truth
sorceries: magic
subtilty, subtilly: skill, skilfully
travailed: suffered
Termagaunt: a violent deity ascribed to Islam by medieval Christians
trow, trowed: believe, believed
varlet: common man, attendant 
vermil: red
warding: guarding, controlling
whenas: when
whereas: because
withal: also
wot, wotted: know, knew
yea-say: agree
youngling: young man

A Tale of Over Sea

accorded: agreed
apparelled: prepared
aright: rightly
array: place, decorate, arrange
atonement: compensation
attemperly: gradually
avail: use, value 
baron: feudal lord
behest: demand
caitif: captive
chaffer: trade
chamberlain: steward
conjure: beg
cross: vow to go on a Crusade
damosel; young woman
debonairly: fairly, in a kind spirit
dight: arrange, prepare 
dole: lament
dolour: sorrow
doubted: feared, repented  
gentil, gentle: well-born
garnish: supply
glaive: lance, spear
hallow: saint
havings: possessions
heavy: worried, sorrowful 
heed: help
ire: anger
Latiner: speaker of Latin, scholar 
lead: bring
lighted down: alighted
maugre: despite
meney, meyney: service, staff 
misease: discomfort
much: very
naysay: deny
palfrey: light saddle-horse
quean: woman
quick: alive
renied: denied
raiment: clothing
Salahadin: Saladin
Saracens: Muslims
semblance: appearance
sergeant: attendant
sheared: cut through
sithence: since  
shoon: shoes
sooth: truth
Soudan: Sultan
stave: board
stour: fight
strong-thieves: robbers
sumpter-beast: packhorse
sundering: dividing
the Apostle: the Pope
the tables: folding boards for games like backgammon
the Temple: the Knights Templar, a military order which played a large part
in the Crusades, took its name from the Temple of Solomon
trow: believe
tun: barrel
truss: pack
uncovered: disclosed
upso down: upside down
varlet: servant, common man
ward: guard, govern
wasted: laid waste
wend: go
what hap: what shall happen to 
whenas: when
whereas: because
wile: skill
wise: way
wit: intelligence
wot: know